The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 8
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The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 8

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The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 8 The Bradford Legacy - Chapter 8 Presentation Transcript

  • Welcome to Chapter 8 of my legacy! At this point, so much has happened that a few sentences can‟t do the story justice. I suggest that you read the prologue and first seven chapters to get the full story. Last chapter, Thomas, generation three heir, did his best to find his missing brother, Patrick, but was unable to do so. The generation two heir, Elias, died without ever seeing his son again. Sister Eliza continued to mourn her husband, but eventually found happiness with George McCarthy. And the eldest of generation four, Anne, finally found Patrick and begged him to come home for the sake of Uma. And now, on with the story.
  • Patrick and Margaret Turner sat on the sofa in the parlor of their Portsimouth apartment. Patrick‟s niece, Anne Bradford, had just left after begging her uncle to come home and visit with his ailing, aging mother. Before he could contemplate a family reunion, he had a very important conversation to have with his wife. He had not been honest with her about the path that had brought him to her, and it was time to confess. He looked at his wife, hoping that what he was about to tell her would not change her feelings for him. These past few years, with their marriage and the birth of their son, had been the happiest Patrick had ever known “I hardly know where to start,” he said. “The beginning is always a good place,” smiled Margaret.
  • “I guess the beginning goes back to my childhood. Thomas was always the center of attention. Mother always doted on me, but my parents had waited so long for Thomas to be born that they couldn‟t help but spoil him. And Eliza was the only girl, and so clever at that. I wanted for nothing, but I always felt that I was the least important of the bunch. So I tried to find ways to stand out. I never was much of a scholar, or an athlete. The only thing I seemed to excel at was debating. But it wasn‟t until I met Horace Alcott that I found what I had been looking for. He was from South Simolina, and he spoke with such passion about the cause of states‟ rights. I was enthralled by him.”
  • “Horace was a good friend of yours,” stated Margaret. “He was a great friend. Though I was barely sixteen, he treated me as an adult. He valued my opinions, and he encouraged me to express them. Though I am certain he didn‟t mean for me to be as forceful as I was. Looking back, I realize that I was rude, pushy, and disrespectful. I picked fights with everyone constantly, to the point where no one could bear to me around me. Eliza was the only one who would spend any time with me. I introduced her to Horace, hoping that he could help me bring her around to our side of things. Instead, he was enamored by her, and begged me to help him court her.” “And you did,” smiled Margaret, “because you wanted Horace to be a true brother to you.”
  • Patrick nodded. “You know me so well. Yes, I helped bring them together. Everything was going so well. And then, the war came.” Patrick paused as images of his years on the march swam before his eyes. He never thought about that time willingly, and it came rushing back with such force now. Margaret noticed the far away look in his eyes. “Patrick, come back to me.” He shook his head, as if to shake the memories away. “I‟m sorry. It‟s been so long, but at times it feels like yesterday. Believing as strongly as I did in states‟ rights, I knew there was just one thing for me to do. I enlisted in the South Simolina army. I went to Horace and Eliza‟s to share the news, and Horace decided to come with me.”
  • “I never knew you fought for the South until Anne mentioned it.” “What else did she tell you?” “Nothing. She thought I knew.” Patrick sighed. “I‟m not proud of many things I‟ve done in my life, Margaret. I had hoped to keep some of the follies of my youth from you.” “Nonsense,” dismissed Margaret. “I cannot know who you are now unless I understand who you were as a young man. Now, you left off when you and Horace went off to war.” “Yes, I had.”
  • “Things were well for a few years. Sure, we grew tired of the constant marching and fighting. But we were fighting for a cause we believed in. Eventually, we got to Pennsimvania, and there we were to engage the Union troops in battle. The night before, Horace had gotten a batch of letters from Eliza letting him know that she had given birth to twin boys. I begged him to go home to them, but he refused.” Patrick shook his head. “I should have insisted that he go. If he had gone, he‟d still be alive. The next day, he was killed by a Union sniper as our advance unit moved forward. It‟s my fault that he‟s dead. My fault that my sister‟s a widow. My fault that my nephews never knew their father.” His voice had dropped to a whisper by the time he finished his speech.
  • “What happened then?” she asked gently. “I had to stay and fight, but my heart wasn‟t in it anymore. I just wanted to come home to my family. I wanted nothing more that my Mother‟s comfort, but I had to tell Eliza about Horace first. She slapped me; I can still feel the sting of it to this day. And then she threw me out of her house, saying that she never wanted to se me again. So I ran.” “Where did you go?” “Here. Well, to that horrible rooming house that you found me in. I had almost no money to my name, and I was afraid to face my family after Eliza‟s reaction.” “So you have not seen or spoken with your family in over ten years?”
  • Patrick nodded. “I read about my father‟s death in the paper the day we met. I was so mad at Thomas for not coming and telling me in person. Of course, he couldn‟t tell me because he had no idea where I was.” He chuckled darkly. “It‟s almost comical how this has played out. I didn‟t reach out to them, because I thought they hated me, and they didn‟t find me because I didn‟t want to be found.” He sighed. “So now you know my dark past. I‟m responsible for causing my family so much pain over the years. I‟d hardly blame you if you took Andrew and walked out the door. With all that I‟ve brought on you as well, I scarcely believe that you‟d stay.”
  • Margaret looked at Patrick, staring into his eyes for a long time. She saw the pain and sadness that his estrangement from his family had brought on, and guilt for the death of Horace and its consequences. Those emotions had been present in her husband‟s eyes for years. But now there was a new emotion: fear. Fear that he would lose the life he had built for himself. The other feelings would take more time to erase, but the last she could alleviate straight away. “Patrick, I am not going anywhere. Our vows were for better or for worse. I always knew there was a reason for your behavior when we met…” “Your polite way of referring to my drunken stupor.” “…and now that I know it, I will do what I can to help you work through it.”
  • “You mean that.” “Of course I do. We will work through this together. Now, first and foremost, what do you intend to do about Anne‟s request?”
  • Patrick grew silent. He had spent so many years running from his past. Still, he had made a promise to Anne, and he had always been a man of his word. “I need to go home. Soon. Tomorrow. I‟ll take the train to Simsfield tomorrow.” “You mean we’ll be taking the train to Simsfield tomorrow.” “Margaret, you don‟t have to…” he began. “But I want to. Besides, any anger your mother may have will be dissipated by the sight of her grandson.”
  • “Andrew‟s still a baby,” stated Patrick. “Is such a journey a good idea?” “His birthday is tonight; besides, I think your mother would appreciate getting to know her grandchild.” Patrick looked at Margaret. “What?” she asked, confused. “Do you not want your family to know about us?” “Hardly,” he replied. “I‟m still trying to figure out what I ever did to deserve a woman such as you.”
  • He pulled her close. “Thank you for offering to come. I‟m not sure I can face tomorrow alone, even with Anne‟s encouragement.” “It is nothing. You don‟t have to face anything alone anymore, Patrick. I‟ll always be here to support you.” The couple stayed locked in an embrace until they heard their son‟s cries from the nursery. Reluctantly, they separated, Margaret to tend to Andrew‟s needs and Patrick to reserve seats on the morning train.
  • Patrick brought his son downstairs to celebration his transition into toddlerhood. “Tickle, tickle,” cooed Patrick to his son‟s delighted squeals. “Patrick, we do have a long day ahead of us tomorrow,” reminded Margaret gently. “Yes, yes,” he said.
  • Patrick blew out the candles on the cake as Andrew stared at the lights. “Well, then,” said Patrick. “Let‟s see how you grow up.”
  • Andrew turned out to be a cute little boy with a blend of his parents‟ features. He was very outgoing and nice, but a bit of a slob.
  • The next morning, the family rose before dawn to begin the journey into Simsfield. Margaret bathed Andrew, and dressed him in his smartest outfit. “Are you all set? The carriage is downstairs to take us to the train station,” said Patrick. “Yes, I just need to put his winter coat on; the cold has come early this year.” “Here, let me take him. He‟s gotten big, and I don‟t want you to get tired.” Thank you,” replied Margaret, handing the toddler to Patrick. “He is getting heavy.”
  • Margaret went to fetch the coats. Patrick looked at his son. “You‟re going to meet your grandmother today, Andrew. What do you think about that?” “Gramma?” Patrick laughed. “She is going to love you. Let‟s get going.”
  • It was still early when Patrick, Margaret, and Andrew arrived in Simsfield. They decided to walk the short distance from the station to the farm. “This is it,” said Patrick, as he paused in the front yard. “What a lovely home,” comment Margaret. “I had forgotten how charming this village is.” “Gramma?” asked Andrew. “Grandma is inside. Come, let‟s go introduce you.” Patrick walked up the steps and knocked on the door.
  • Uma went to answer the knock. She was not feeling up to callers. Carolina was sick in bed with a nasty cold, Thomas was at work, the elder children at school, and Uma had been forced to deal with toddler twins on her own. Still, social obligations must be kept, and so she opened the door. She froze as the callers came into the hallway, hardly believing her eyes.
  • Patrick didn‟t know how to react to his mother‟s silence. Luckily for him, Andrew broke the tension. “Gramma?” he asked. “Yes, Andrew. That is your Grandma.” “Patrick?” whispered Uma. “Yes, Mother. I‟d like to introduce you to my wife, Margaret, and our son, Andrew.” “Oh, Patrick!” Uma cried, rushing towards her youngest son. Patrick barely had time to hand Andrew to Margaret.
  • Uma threw her arms around her son. “Oh, thank heaven you are well,” she cried, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. “I have worried about you for so long.” “I‟m so sorry to have caused you that distress, Mother.” “It doesn‟t matter now. All that matters is that you are here.” “And I am not going to vanish again. Now, there is someone who is most anxious to meet you,” he said pulling away from the hug to grab Andrew from Margaret‟s arms. “Mother, this is Andrew. Andrew, this is your Grandma.”
  • Patrick place Andrew into Uma‟s arms. The toddler regarded her for a moment before smiling. “Gramma pretty,” he declaired. “Oh, aren‟t you a darling,” Uma said, snuggling the little boy close. “Oh, Patrick. You have done well for yourself. I am so glad.”
  • Patrick looked at Margaret with relief. She smiled a knowing smile. “You were right, dear,” he said softly. “Goodness, where are my manners?” said Uma. “Here, let me take your coats and hats.” “Thank you, Mrs. Bradford,” replied Margaret. “Andrew‟s due for his nap. Is there someplace…” “The nursery is upstairs, last door on the right. Go and put him down, and then we can have a nice visit.”
  • After getting Andrew settled, the three adults went into the music room. Uma could not stop looking at Patrick as if she was afraid he would vanish at any moment. “Mother, I am so sorry for running away. It was wrong of me to cut you out of my life.” “Oh, dear,” she sighed. “Patrick, I do not fault you. There is blame all around. None of us were especially supportive of you having a differing opinion.” “Still, I am not proud of the way I acted. My youth doesn‟t excuse how I treated you, Thomas, and Father. I was discourteous, and for that I must apologize.” Uma beamed at her son. “What has brought about your change of heart, Patrick?”
  • Patrick paused and looked at Margaret. He was fairly certain that no one in the family knew that Anne had called on him, and he didn‟t want to get his niece in any trouble. “It was me,” lied Margaret smoothly, sensing Patrick‟s distress. “I wanted our son to know his family.” “That is so sweet of you,” said Uma. “You look so familiar to me. Have we met before?” “Perhaps. I grew up here in the village, but my family moved to the city years ago.” “I thought so. Tell me, how did the two of you meet?” It was Margaret‟s turn to look uncomfortable, and Patrick‟s turn to rescue her.
  • “Margaret found me on the day I read Father‟s obituary in the paper. I was drowning my sorrows…” “Oh, Patrick,” admonished Uma. “That is not the answer.” “I know, Mother, but I was at my lowest point. Margaret was a life raft for me, and I knew that I couldn‟t let her get away.” Uma looked at Margaret. “Thank you. You not only saved my son, but you have brought him back to me. I can never repay you.” “It was nothing, Mrs. Bradford. I am glad to have been able to be a part of this happy reunion.”
  • “How is Eliza?” asked Patrick. “Oh, she‟s just wonderful!” exclaimed Uma. “She and Mr. McCarthy were married, and they are so happy. The twins are teenagers now, and they are expecting a new addition to the family in a few months.” “Does she still hate me?” “Oh, Patrick, I do not know. She refused to speak about you, so I simply stopped asking. But she has lost much of her bitterness. Perhaps enough time has passed for you two to be friends again.” “I hope that is the case. I have missed her gentle guidance over the years.”
  • In no time at all, several hours had passed. Uma had told Patrick all about his nieces and nephews, and Patrick had caught his mother up on his new life in the city. The conversation was interupted when Thomas arrived home from work. “Mother, how is Carolina…” he began as he walked into the room. “Patrick?” he asked in disbelief. Uma nodded excitedly. “Patrick has come home, and he has brought his wife, Margaret, and their son, Andrew. Is it not wonderful, Thomas? The family is whole again!”
  • Relief washed over Thomas as he crossed the room and hugged his brother. “I am so glad to see you home, and doing well to boot! We have all hoped for this for so long.”
  • Patrick returned his brother‟s embrace fiercely. “It is good to be home. I wish I had been able to find the courage to do this years ago.” “You are here now; that is all that matters,” replied Thomas. Patrick laughed. “I have heard that already today, brother. Mother beat you to it.”
  • While Uma and Margaret kept conversed in the background, the brothers quickly caught up. “Your face…” commented Thomas. “I was knocked down during the same battle where Horace was killed. I don‟t even know exactly how I got this as I was unconscious. My wife thinks it adds to my rugged good looks.” “Hah! You‟re still as vain as ever, I see.” “I‟ve changed over the years, Thomas, and come to see the error of my ways. I want to apologize to you for how I treated you in my youth.”
  • Thomas shook his head. “And I should apologize to you, for how I treated you. We make you feel an outcast for having a different opinion. Perhaps if we had acted differently, you would not have been lost to us for so long.” “Perhaps,” agreed Patrick. “But I was a headstrong youth, and I made mistakes. Let‟s say it‟s water under the bridge and move forward.” “An excellent idea,” agreed Thomas. “It is good to see you.” “It is good to be home.” “Well, isn‟t this a lovely reunion,” a female voice interjected.
  • Anne and Diana had returned home from school and joined the party. Diana looked upon the gathering with a degree of indifference, but Anne wore a grin a mile wide with a slightly smug expression. “Patrick, these are my eldest girls. Anne and Diana.” “I met them just before I went to war. They‟re practically grown up.” “Hello, Uncle Patrick,” said Diana politely.
  • Anne walked right up to her uncle and greeted him with a hug and a kiss. “I‟m glad you listened,” said Anne in a voice that she thought was quiet enough for just Patrick‟s ears. Thomas looked at his daughter. “What do you mean by that, Anne?”
  • Anne laughed nervously. “I may have…meddled, Papa.” “Explain.” “When Mama, Diana and I went into Portsimouth, I…fibbed about my headache. I actually had discovered where Uncle Patrick was living, and I called on him, begging him to come home. And he listened! He‟s here; isn‟t it wonderful?” Thomas scowled at his daughter. “You went walking about the city alone? What were you thinking?” “Thomas,” interrupted Uma.
  • “Anne may not have behaved properly, but she has brought Patrick home to us. Perhaps you can forgive her actions this one time, as she was doing what she thought best for the family.” Thomas nodded. “Very well, Mother.”
  • He turned to face Anne again. “You are forgiven, because you were able to do something that none of us have been able to accomplish. But you will never do such a thing again, young lady. If you behave as such while you are at Mrs. Seymour‟s, I will have you brought home so fast it will make your head spin. Are we clear?” “Yes, Papa. Thank you.” “No, thank you, dear child. This is truly a wonderful day for this family.”
  • Uma called Anne over and hugged her tight. “Thank you, Anne. My family is together, and my heart is whole again.” “You are welcome, Grandma. I did it for you.”
  • Before long, it was time for the Turners to return home. “It was lovely to meet you, dear,” said Uma as she hugged Margaret. “You must come to visit often, and bring that beautiful boy of yours.” “I will. I‟ll go fetch him now,” replied Margaret.
  • Once Margaret came back downstairs with Andrew, Patrick knew it was time to go. Uma pulled him close. “Do not stay away for so long again.” “Never,” he agreed. “You will be sick of me before long.” “Never,” she whispered. “My dear boy, I love you so much.” “And I love you, too, Mother. I will call when we get back into the city to let you know we have arrived safely.” “Thank you. Good bye.”
  • Before he left Simsfield, Patrick had one more stop he needed to make. Margaret took Andrew to call on an old acquaintance, and Patrick walked across town to his sister Eliza‟s house. He stood outside the door for a long time, trying to gather up the courage to knock. He wasn‟t sure how Eliza would react to him, and he feared another angry tirade. Drawing in a deep breath, Patrick raised his arm and knocked.
  • Eliza went to answer the door. George was at the store, and the boys were staying late at school for university entrance exam preparation. She wasn‟t expecting any callers that day, and was curious to see who had come for a visit.
  • “Hello, Eliza,” greeted Patrick as he came into the entryway. “Patrick,” breathed Eliza, the shock of seeing her brother evident on her face. “I won‟t take much of your time, but I was in town visiting Mother and I couldn‟t leave without stopping. I just wanted to tell you again how sorry I am about what happened with Horace all those years ago. I‟ve never been able to forgive myself for depriving you of your husband, and my nephews of their father. I don‟t expect you to be able to forgive me either, but I hope that someday we might be able to be civil for the sake of the family. I‟m sorry to have barged in unannounced, and I‟ll take my leave now. Goodbye, Eliza.”
  • Patrick turned and opened the door to leave. Judging by his sister‟s lack of response, he feared that this might be the last time he would see her. Just as his foot crossed the threshold, Eliza‟s voice called out to him. “Patrick, please wait.”
  • He turned to face his sister. “Yes?” “I think…that is, perhaps we should…what I mean to say is…” she stuttered. There were very few times Eliza was at a loss for words, and this was one of them. She looked at her brother, and her thoughts steadied. “Won‟t you come in for a few moments? There are a few things I would like to say as well.” “Yes, of course.”
  • The siblings went to sit in the parlor. A rather uncomfortable silence passed for some time. Finally, Eliza spoke. “Patrick, I have spent so many years being angry at you.” He made a nervous face. “As much as I know I deserve it, I‟m really not up for another one of your tongue lashings, Eliza.” “And that‟s the thing, Patrick, you didn‟t deserve it then, and you don‟t deserve it now.” Patrick was even more confused now. “What do you mean, Eliza? It‟s my fault that Horace is gone.”
  • “You still believe that, Patrick?” He nodded. “If it weren‟t for me coming here after I enlisted, Horace would never have gone to war, and he‟d still be here to be a husband to you, and a father to the boys.” Eliza gently shook her head. “If I am not mistaken, Horace is the one who convinced you of the cause of states‟ rights. He is the one who got you so fired up that it alienated you from your family. You didn‟t force him to go to war, Patrick; he went of his own volition. It‟s not your fault that he‟s gone, Patrick. It never was, and I was wrong to say so. And for that, I am greatly sorry.”
  • “Eliza, why are you apologizing to me? It‟s my fault! You said so yourself.” “Patrick, have you ever heard the old proverb about shooting the messenger?” Patrick nodded. “You were the messenger, delivering me the most devastating news I could have imagined. I had to be mad at someone, and that someone was you.” “But still…” “No more, Patrick,” Eliza said firmly. “There is no one to blame for his death except the soldier who shot him.” She sighed, and then admitted in a soft voice, “And perhaps Horace himself.”
  • Patrick gasped at his sister‟s words. “But you know it‟s true, Patrick. He decided to go. No, he didn‟t know that I was…in the family way. But he still left his wife behind. He knew what the consequences might be.” She paused, a thoughtful look on her face. “It has taken me a long time to admit this, Patrick, but it was easier to be angry at you than it was to be mad at Horace.” “Why were you mad at him?” “Because he left me! Alone, with two little boys to raise. I was furious at him for years, wallowing in my sorrows. Mother tried to encourage me to forgive you, but I held fast to my anger at you; it made more sense than my anger at Horace.”
  • “So you hated me because it was easier to hate your brother than it was to hate your husband?” “It sounds so silly when you say it aloud. It was George who finally helped me to heal.” Patrick smiled. “I see you will soon be a mother again.” Eliza smiled at her brother. “Yes. We are both excited. The boys as well.” At that moment, the front door opened, and two rowdy teenage boys entered. “Boys,” called Eliza, “Hang your coats up and come into the parlor. There is someone I would like you to meet.”
  • “Who is it, Mother?” asked Lawrence. “Lawrence, Robert, this is your Uncle Patrick.” Patrick rose from the sofa.
  • He extended his hand to Lawrence. “It‟s very nice to meet you.” “And you as well, Uncle Patrick,” replied Lawrence, returning the handshake. “What brings you back to Simsfield?” “I married and have a son, and wished for him to know his family.” “Another cousin?” smiled Lawrence. “Will we get to meet him today?” “No, he is with my wife calling on an old friend of hers. Perhaps another day soon.”
  • Patrick then turned to Robert and offered him his hand as well. “You went to war with my father,” stated Robert. “I did,” replied Patrick wearily. “Will you tell me about it? Mother and Mercy have told me much about him, but they won‟t talk about that.” “Another time, Robert,” interjected Eliza. “You boys go finish your schoolwork. Patrick will be joining us for dinner.” “I will?” asked Patrick.
  • After a quick phone call to Margaret‟s friend‟s house to share his new plans, Patrick and Eliza settled in to a game of chess to pass the time before dinner. Just after six, George returned home. There he found his wife and her brother engaged in a deep conversation. He couldn‟t help but smile. George had encouraged Eliza to reach out to her brother, but she had been to scared. He had seen how close they had been as children, and it was good to see that closeness restored. “This is a lovely surprise,” he stated.
  • “George!” cried Eliza happily. She jumped up from her chair to embrace him. “Easy there, dear. You are in a delicate condition, after all.” “I tended a garden when I was carrying the twins,” she scoffed. “George, Patrick has come home at last. Isn‟t it wonderful?” “Yes, it is dear.”
  • Patrick rose and greeted George. “I see you finally managed to win my sister‟s affections after all these years,” he said. “I see you have finally managed to do the right thing and reconcile with your family,” retorted George. Patrick smiled. “Stubbornness runs in the family, as I‟m sure you‟ve found out by now.” George pretended to contemplate Patrick‟s statement, and then smiled. “The Bradford stubbornness is well-known in the village, and I have three who inherited it to deal with.” Patrick laughed. “Good luck with that.”
  • “Gentlemen,” admonished Eliza. “What? We were only having a little fun,” stated Patrick. “At my expense, and that of my sons,” she retorted. “I am sorry, Eliza,” replied George. “As am I,” agreed Patrick. “There have been enough apologies today. Let us sit down to dinner and enjoy getting to know one another and catching up.”
  • Dinner that evening consisted of Patrick and Eliza getting each other caught up on the events of the past ten or so years. Eventually, the conversation turned to the war, and Patrick‟s involvement in it. “Uncle Patrick, would you tell me about my father and why he went to war?” asked Robert. Patrick looked at Eliza, who nodded her head in consent. Patrick drew in deep breath before he began.
  • “Your father and I went to fight for the South because we believed that individual states‟ rights took precedence over the national government. Neither of us believe in slavery; the fact that your father freed the slaves his father had owned should tell you that. But we did fight alongside those who wanted to keep the practice alive. Your father was a brave solider. He often went on scouting missions to find us suitable encampment sites, or to do reconnaissance on the Union soldiers. We looked out for each other; he even gave the order to take cover when we were attacked.”
  • “Did he know about us? That is, had he received word that he was a father?” asked Robert. Patrick nodded. “I never saw prouder than he was after he read your mother‟s letter. He wanted nothing more than to be a father, and to have it happen twice at once was almost more than he could comprehend.” Robert smiled for a moment, then his face fell slightly. “Then why did he not come home to us straight away?”
  • “Robert, I don‟t think…” began Eliza, but she paused as Patrick held up a hand to silence her. “He‟s practically a man, Eliza,” reminded Patrick. Eliza sighed. “It‟s hard for a mother to see that sometimes. Go ahead.” “Robert, your father did want to come home; I practically begged him to. Two things stopped him. First, he was afraid of what would happen if he was found to be a deserter. Had he been caught, he would have been severely punished. But mostly, he wanted to see the cause through to the end. He had made a promise of sorts by signing up for the army, and he wanted to see it through to the end.”
  • The table was silent for a few moments, the only noise the sound of silverware gently clinking on plates. “I wish he could have kept both his promise to his cause, and his promise to Mother to come home safely,” said Robert softly. “As we all do,” said Lawrence. “But things are not so bad, Robert. We have Mr. McCarthy now, and we will have a new brother or sister soon.” “I suppose,” muttered Robert. “Robert, I wish I could have saved your father. I truly do,” said Patrick. “It‟s alright, Uncle Patrick. I don‟t blame you,” replied Robert.
  • George had listened to the exchange in silence. Though Eliza was now his wife, and in many ways he looked at her boys as theirs, it still pained him slightly to hear about her first husband. Eliza noted George‟s distress, and covered his hand in hers. “I am glad that you were able to have some of your questions about your father answered, Robert. Perhaps you and your uncle can visit and discuss the issue further?” “I would be happy to take you to the train station on my way into the store so the two of you can visit in Portsimouth,” agreed George. “Thank you very much, Mr. McCarthy,” said Robert.
  • A short time later, Patrick reluctantly put on his coat and hat. “Must you go? I had hoped to meet your wife and son.” “I spoke with Margaret, and Andrew is getting very fussy. We had best be getting home.” “Of course. I can‟t imagine travelling with a toddler.” “It‟s not so bad. We‟ll come back soon so that you can meet Margaret, and maybe they‟ll get to meet the new addition to the family by then.”
  • The siblings hugged. “I‟m so glad that things are right between us again, „Liza.” “So am I, Patrick. So am I.”
  • Eliza kissed her brother goodbye. “Don‟t wait ten years before calling again.” Patrick laughed. “Nonsense. Margaret and I will need all the advice we can get on raising a son. You seem to be the expert in that department.” “Safe journey, Patrick.” “I‟ll see you soon, Eliza.”
  • After Patrick left, Eliza smiled to herself contently. Things were finally fall back into place. The baby moved, and she rubbed her stomach. “Are you alright, dear?” asked George. “Never better,” she replied. “I‟m so glad Patrick had the courage to come speak to me. I don‟t know if I would ever have been able to.”
  • George walked over and kissed his wife. “Yes, you would have.” “Thank you,” replied Eliza. “And thank you for dealing with Robert‟s questions so well.” “The boy has a right to know about his father.” “But I know it pains you to hear about him. Lawrence has come around to seeing you as his father. I‟m sure that Robert will too with time.” “I hope so. Now, you‟ve had a busy day. Off to bed with you.”
  • “It is your birthday today, sweet girl,” Uma told Philomena. “Gonna be big girl, Grandma!” “Yes, you are. And you are going to have a proper party, with your Aunt Eliza and Uncle George, and Uncle Patrick and Aunt Margaret in attendance. It is so nice to have everyone together again.”
  • Later that afternoon, Uma was entertaining Alexander while Anne and Diane helped Carolina get ready for the party. “Who‟s Grandma‟s big boy?” she cooed. “Me, Grandma! I go school tomorrow.” “Yes, you will start school. And in a few weeks, your big sisters will depart for finishing school. Where has the time gone?”
  • The party for Alexander and Philomena‟s birthday was a huge success. The entire Bradford family, Patrick and Margaret included, were in attendance.
  • Thomas and Carolina did the honors of bringing the twins to their cakes. Everyone was excited to see how the pair would grow up.
  • Of all the twins, Alexander and Philomena were the most identical. Their eye color was the only difference between them.
  • A few weeks later, it was time for Anne and Diana to depart for Mrs. Seymour‟s Finishing School. There were lots of farewell hugs and kisses to go around among the siblings.
  • Diana too had many goodbyes to say.
  • Thomas hugged his oldest daughter close. “Remember what I told you. You will conduct yourself like a lady, or I‟ll have you home so fast it will make your head spin.” “Yes, Papa. I promise to be good.” “Never mind your father,” said Carolina. “Learn all you can at school, and take care of your sister. Make sure that she and Mr. Pasang behave properly, as I know that he will be at college and that it is not far away from Mrs. Seymour‟s.” “I will, Mama. Di and I always look out for each other.”
  • Diana also hugged her parents. “Be certain you conduct yourself as a young lady should,” reminded Thomas. “Always, Papa.” “Remember to have Anne serve as chaperone when Mr. Pasang calls, dear,” reminded Carolina. “Yes, Mama.” “Also,” said Thomas as he cleared his throat. “I expect Mr. Pasang to be calling on me one day soon. Please let him know that.” “Be nice to him when he does, Papa. I care about him a great deal.”
  • But the most tender goodbyes were reserved for Uma. Despite her newfound exuberance over Patrick‟s return, the girls could see how frail she had become. They knew that this might be the last time they saw her. “Do not be sad,” Uma reminded them. “You are going on to great things. I wish school had been an option for me as a young woman. Learn all that you can, and make many friends. I am certain that you will do the Bradford name proud.”
  • “Are you ready for this?” asked Anne. “As I will ever be, I supposed,” responded Diana. The girls heard the coach wheels, and they put on their coats.
  • Thomas saw to their trunks, and Anne and Diana climbed aboard for the short ride to the train station. Once there, they boarded a train that brought them to Mrs. Seymour‟s.
  • Anne and Diana settled into their new routine at finishing school quickly. Their shopping excursion with their mother had paid off, and both girls were eager to show off their new dresses. Diana took up an art course as most of the other ladies at school did, but Anne decided she wanted to study philosophy.
  • As the eldest Bradford girls settled into school, there was much excitement going on at the McCarthy house. “Oh,” moaned Eliza. “Mercy! Come quickly.”
  • “Mercy, is outside, dear. Can I do something for you?” asked George, coming into the room. “The baby is coming! Unless you plan to deliver it yourself, I suggest to go and fetch her,” cried Eliza through clenched teeth. “Ah!” exclaimed George. “I‟ll go get her right now.”
  • “No need to worry about anything, Miss Eliza. I‟m here, and you‟ve done this twice before already,” she soothed. “Mr. McCarthy, you go wait downstairs. I‟ll come get you when it‟s time.”
  • It was not long before Mercy went back downstairs to fetch George. Upon entering the room he shared with Eliza, he found his wife holding a small creature with brown hair and eyes. “George, I would like you to meet your daughter.” “She‟s perfect,” he breathed. “Do you know what you‟d like to call her?” “I thought we could call her Amelia, after your mother.” “I like that idea very much.”
  • Lawrence and Robert were soon allowed into the room to see their sister. “She‟s so tiny,” marveled Lawrence. “You were that small once too, you know,” commented Eliza. Lawrence shook his head in disbelief. Robert simply stared at the baby for a few moments, before taking a few tentative steps forward.
  • “Hello, Amelia,” he said. “I‟m Robert, your big brother.” Amelia turned her head towards Robert‟s voice, so Eliza turned the baby so that she could look at Robert. “You‟re very pretty. I promise to beat up any boys that make you cry.” “Robert,” admonished Eliza gently, but she was secretly pleased that he was taking such an interest anything that George had a hand in.
  • “How are Anne and Diana doing at school?” asked Uma one afternoon over a game of billiards. “They are both doing well. Diana is enjoying her classes, and Anne tells me she does as well. Mr. Pasang is bringing both of them to the theater tomorrow to celebrate the end of term.” “And has this Mr. Pasang called to let you know of his intentions towards Diana?” Thomas grimaced. “He is supposed to meet me for coffee later this week.” “Be kind to him, dear. It is obvious how much he cares for her.”
  • Thomas hugged his mother. “Was it as hard for you to watch your children grow up as it is for me?” “Harder, because I feared I had lost one of my babies forever. But you and Carolina have done an excellent job raising your brood. I have no doubt that great things lie ahead for all of them.” “Thank you, Mother.”
  • “Grandma, they have selected me to recite on the Simerican Revolution at the school exhibition next week!” cried Henrietta. “That is wonderful, dear!” Uma exclaimed, giving her granddaughter a hug. “Will you come and watch me?” “I will be in the front row, dear child,” Uma promised. “Oh, I must go find Mama and tell her!” Henrietta said, hurrying from the room.
  • Matthew came into the study just as Henrietta dashed out. “Are you going to be reciting at the school exhibition as well?” Uma asked. “No,” he replied sullenly. “Henrietta is always picked for those sort of things.” “Oh, dear,” soothed Uma. “Perhaps recitation is not your strength. You will go to University soon; I am certain you will find your calling there.” “Thank you, Grandma,” he replied. “I supposed I should go and do my schoolwork now.” “That‟s a good boy.”
  • Uma went to the music room, where Carolina was beaming. “Henrietta has found you, then?” asked Uma. “I am so proud of her,” smiled Carolina. “You have been an excellent mother to all of them, dear.” “Thank you, Mother. I could not have done it without your help.” “Thank you, dear.”
  • Carolina left to go help Henrietta figure out what to wear for the exhibition, leaving Uma alone. The elderly woman smiled to herself. All was finally right in her world. Patrick was found, and had done well for himself. Eliza had found happiness again, and Thomas and his family were poised to carry on the Bradford name. A wave of contentment washed over her as she turned into the billiard room.
  • Before she could get very far, she was met with a eerie presence. It seemed that it was time for Uma to join her beloved Elias in the Great Unknown.
  • The entire family rushed downstairs as Uma vanished. She took one last look towards her youngest grandchildren, wishing that she could hug them one last time.
  • The entire Bradford family, Thomas and the children especially, took the loss of the family matriarch hard.
  • Matthew was the only one of the children who wasn‟t visibly saddened by the loss. “Why are you crying?” he asked Phily. “Grandma was old; you knew this was going to happen soon.” “But that doesn‟t mean I can‟t be sad and miss her,” replied Phily. Matthew shrugged. “I‟m sad too, but I‟m not crying like a little girl about it,” he said as he exited the room. “But I am a little girl,” muttered Phily, as she wiped her eyes.
  • Thomas‟ heart was heavy after he lost his mother. He was dreading what he needed to do next. “Carolina, I need to go and tell the girls about Mother. I‟m going to take the train into the city, and I‟ll call on Patrick while I‟m there.” “Do you want me to go and tell Eliza?” she asked. “Would you mind?” “Not at all.” “Thank you, dear. I may be late, so don‟t wait up for me.”
  • Patrick was at work, and Margaret was trying to teach Andrew a nursery rhyme. Andrew was much more interested in the lighting fixture that hung from the ceiling. “Andrew, please pay attention,” said Margaret gently. “Light!” “Yes, dear. Now…” “Big light!”
  • “You have no interest in what I want to teach you today, do you?” “No!” Margaret laughed. “I wonder what has you so distracted. It‟s not at all like you.” “Mama, when visit Gramma?” “This weekend, dear. We will take the train and go see your Grandma.” “Yay train! Yay Gramma!”
  • Margaret got Andrew settled down for his nap, and went to the parlor to work on her embroidery. She heard the front door open, and place her needlepoint down on the table. “How was your day, dear?” “Thomas called on me at the office. Mother passed away this afternoon.” “Oh, Patrick,” she cried, rushing to him.
  • “I am so sorry. You only just got her back in your life, and now she is gone.” Patrick sniffled. “But I made her happy in her final days, and that is all that matters.” Margaret rubbed soothing circles on her husband‟s back as she held him close. “I am glad you got to spend some time with her.” Patrick nodded, too overcome with emotion to speak.
  • A few moments later, he pulled away. “Andrew has been asking when he will get to see Grandma again.” Patrick sighed. “How do you explain death to a toddler?” “We‟ll figure it out together,” she replied, taking his hand and leading him towards the nursery.
  • Time continued to march forward in the Bradford household. Thomas taught Philomena to study…
  • …and Alexander as well.
  • Henrietta, despite her vow not to, continued to help Matthew with his schoolwork, often writing his compositions. He studies so hard and still struggles, she would think, The least I can do is help him out by doing this. After all, he will inherit the house, and he needs a good education to be able to run the farm. I’m doing my duty to my family by helping him out.
  • Matthew was often not studying as Henrietta thought. He could usually be found in the billiards room, contemplating the finer points of the game. Why can I never make that shot? he thought. It’s a good thing I hoodwinked Henrietta into doing my composition again. At least I have time to practice this. Matthew was not a strong student, but he had become quite good at convincing others to do what he didn‟t want to do.
  • Henrietta was his most frequent victim. Matthew thought that by keeping his twin occupied with his schoolwork he was doing his family a favor. She was developing a relationship as a flirt, and by keeping her busy with his work she was unable to cavort with her many beaus.
  • At the McCarthy house, Robert was brooding before bed. This was nothing new to anyone in the house; he had always been a rather moody person. Tonight, though, something seemed different. “Is something wrong?” asked Lawrence, crossing over to his brother‟s side of the room. “No.” “You‟re lying.” Robert shrugged. Lawrence pushed on his brother‟s legs, making room for himself on the bed.
  • “Something‟s bothering you, and it‟s not the usual woe-is-me stuff. What is it?” Robert sighed. “You know Matilda Ryan?” Lawrence nodded. “Our second cousin. She‟s a year behind us in school.” “Yes. She‟s smart, and she offered to help me with geography today.”
  • “I don‟t know how it happened…but we were flirting and laughing, and then she kissed me, or I kissed her. It was so sudden.”
  • “She‟s a sweet girl,” said Lawrence. “I know.” “Are you two going together now?”
  • “I think I‟m in love with her, Lawrence.”
  • “Do you think it‟s strange, us being cousins and all?” “Maybe a little. Still, our closest relative is what, four generations back? Not since great- grandfather Bradford. Are you worried about what people think?” “I‟m more worried about what her parents will say when they find out. You know how rich Mr. Ryan is, and how much of a snob Mrs. Ryan is. I don‟t think they‟ll take too kindly to me courting their only child.”
  • “Do you have anything you would like to share with us, Matilda?” asked Rebecca the next day as the family sat in the parlor after dinner. “No,” said Matilda slowly. “Really? You don‟t want to tell us that you have been behaving like a common trollop with the one of Alcott boys?” “How did you find out about that?”
  • “The maid told me this morning. I expected better behavior from my daughter. You had to take up with one of them, didn‟t you? Of all the families in town to associate with! The son of a confederate whose mother remarried a store clerk. Really Matilda, I expected better from you.” “Robert is a lovely boy, mother. If you would just take the time to get to know him…” “Enough,” stated Timothy. “We have bigger plans for you, dear.” “Plans, Father?” asked Matilda slowly. “Yes, dear. I have already decided who you will marry when you come of age.” “But I love Robert!” she burst out.
  • “Now see here, daughter,” said Timothy. “I am your father, and I will decide who you will marry. You will marry one of my business associates to strengthen my company.” “But Father,” she pleaded. “Silence!” he boomed. “You will do as you are told. You will not see that boy again, Matilda. Do you understand?”
  • Matilda burst into tears. “I can‟t believe you would do this. I hate you! I hate both of you!”
  • And with her outburst, Matilda got up and ran upstairs to her room, where she promptly slammed and locked the door.
  • “Well, that went better than I expected,” commented Rebecca, rising. “I had expected a full on temper tantrum.” “We have indulged her,” agreed Timothy, “And this is how she repays us.” “I suggest you speak with this Robert and make it clear to him that his is forbidden from seeing Matilda.” Timothy nodded. “I will invite him over later today.”
  • “Hello? Yes, this is Robert…Mr. Ryan, how are you? Of course, I would be happy to. Just let me check with my mother, and I will be right over.”
  • “Thank you for coming, Robert.” “Of course, Mr. Ryan. Why did you want to see me so quickly?” “Robert, I understand you are quite taken with my daughter.”
  • “I think she is a lovely girl, Mr. Ryan. I would like to have your permission to court her.” “Yes, I understand that. Robert, let us speak man-to-man. Matilda is the sole heir to this family. I have planned her future for years. She is promised to an associate of mine.” “Does Matilda know about this? And she is agreeable to the plan?”
  • “She was informed about her future earlier today. And whether or not she is agreeable is of little importance. She will do what is best for the family.” “So you do not approve my request to court her.” Timothy nodded. “In fact, I do not wish for you to have any future contact with my daughter. I cannot have her reputation sullied in any way.”
  • Think! Thought Robert. I have to come up with a way to see her again. “Mr. Ryan, may I at least have your permission to say goodbye to her?” “Of course,” Timothy replied with exaggerated graciousness. “Matilda, come down here at once!” “Thank you, sir.”
  • Matilda came down to see her father watching Robert. “Father?” she questioned. “Five minutes, boy,” he said, as he walked up the stairs. Matilda turned to Robert. “Robert?”
  • “Your father says I am not to see you again.” “No, Robert, you can‟t!” “Your father tells me you are already engaged to one of his associates. I cannot go against his wishes.” “Robert, please,” she begged. “Shh,” he said, caressing her cheek, and glancing over her shoulder up the stairs. Seeing no one, he pulled her to him.
  • He whispered in her ear, “We‟ll figure this out. I promise. I love you, and I‟ll find a way for us to be together.” “Oh, Robert. I don‟t know how I‟ll bear this.” “You must find a way. Don‟t do anything to upset your parents; it will only make things worse.” He pressed a quick kiss to her lips, and looked into her eyes for a moment. “Trust me,” he implored. “I trust you. I love you.” “And I love you. And I must be going before I upset your father.”
  • “Goodnight, Mr. Ryan,” he called up the stairs. Matilda followed him to the door. “Goodbye, Matilda,” he said as grabbed her hand and squeezed it. “Goodbye,” she choked.
  • As the door clicked shut, Matilda burst into tears. Rebecca had come downstairs to check on things, and she found her daughter sobbing. “There, there,” she said, putting an awkward arm around Matilda. “You‟ll forget about him in no time.”
  • Matilda stifled an insult. Instead, she pushed her mother‟s arm away, and fled to her room. “What did I say?” wondered Rebecca.
  • Matilda, in the safety of her room, collapsed on her bed. She trusted Robert to find a way for them to be together, but it was hard to believe that it could happen. She fell into a restless sleep.
  • “Is she alright?” asked Timothy. “She‟ll be fine,” dismissed Rebecca. “She‟ll do her duty to the family. I can assure you of that.” “Yes, she will. I was thinking of having Sullivan over for dinner so they can begin to get acquainted. What do you think?” “An excellent idea,” agreed Rebecca. “When are you thinking?” “At the end of the month. That should give her enough time to finish sulking.”
  • Before long, it was time for Thomas and Carolina to celebrate their transition into elderhood. Despite Carolina‟s protests, Thomas insisted on a party. Anne and Diana were able to come home for the occasion, and Patrick, Margaret, Eliza, and George were all present.
  • Thomas was excited about moving into the next stage of his life; Carolina was a bit more reluctant. Both wished for the continued health and happiness of their children.
  • Thomas‟ good looks became more distinguished with age. While still a beauty in the eyes of her husband, Carolina did not age quite as gracefully.
  • There was soon another birthday to celebrate in the Bradford clan. Amelia McCarthy was becoming a toddler.
  • While Amelia favored her mother in eyes and hair, she was entirely her father‟s daughter in her features. She was an outgoing, playful little thing, but she was not very nice.
  • At Eliza‟s insistence, George decided to take Lawrence and Robert to mountains for the weekend. Lawrence was excited, because he and George would finally get to go fishing. Robert was still in a foul mood over being banned from seeing Matilda, so he was looking forward to anything that might distract him. “I‟m glad to see that you‟re looking forward to this trip, Robert,” stated George as they at an early breakfast before departing. “Anyplace is better than here,” muttered Robert. Lawrence remained silent. Robert had told him all about the scene with Mr. Ryan, and he knew why his twin was so miserable. But it was not his place to say anything, despite his mother‟s best efforts to pry the secret from him.
  • “This is going to be great,” said Lawrence as he put his bags into the coach. “I can‟t wait to go fishing!” Robert glanced towards the Ryan house. I wonder what Matilda’s doing now, he thought. I wish her room was at the front of the house; I might be able to catch a glimpse of her. “We‟ll go fishing as soon as we get settled in to the campground,” promised George.
  • After arriving at the campground and stowing their gear in tents, Lawrence and George made their way to the edge of the lake. Lawrence‟s face fell as he saw that there were already a few solid inches of ice covering it. “I‟m sorry, son,” said George. “It‟s not your fault,” Lawrence replied. “Perhaps we can come back in the summer? Maybe Mama and Amelia would like to come with us too.” George laughed. “We‟ll have to stay in the lodge if they come with us. Somehow I don‟t think your mother would take to kindly to sleeping on the ground.” Lawrence laughed too. “I‟ll get Robert and we can go explore the town.”
  • After walking about the town for a few house, the group came upon a party of locals who were dancing. “That looks like fun,” commented Lawrence. “Do you mind if we join?” asked Robert. “‟Course not. Keep up if you can!”
  • Later in the afternoon, while George was off in search of gifts to bring home to the women in his life, the boys partook of one of the many saunas. “How are you doing, Robert?” “I can‟t get her out of my head. She looked so sad when I left, Lawrence. But what other choice did I have?” “None, really. What‟s your plan?” “I don‟t have one. If her parents let her go to Mrs. Seymour‟s, we can run away and get married. But other than that, I‟m clueless.”
  • That night, back at the campsite, Robert stared into the fire, lost in thought. The thought of a life without Matilda in it terrified him, but he couldn‟t come up with a decent plan to keep her becoming a pawn in her father‟s empire.
  • Robert was so lost in thought that he didn‟t notice George‟s approach. “Do you mind if I join you?” Robert shrugged. “It‟s a free country.”
  • The two sat in silence for a while. It was George who spoke first. “Is there something troubling you, Robert? You‟ve seen a bit distracted as of late.” Robert “hmphed” in response to the question. George sighed softly. “Robert, I know I‟m not your father, but I still feel protective of you. If something or someone is causing you distress, I‟d like to help.”
  • Robert looked at George for a moment. He had often wondered what his father would advise him to do if her were still alive. George was a good man, and he had taken good care of him and his mother over the years. But can I trust him? Robert wondered. I suppose I have nothing to lose. “You know Matilda Ryan?” he asked. George nodded. “I‟m in love with her, and her father has forbidden us to see each other. He‟s forcing her to marry one of his colleagues for business purposes. I guess he doesn‟t think I‟m good enough to be part of the family.”
  • Anger twisted George‟s features, and Robert‟s eyes grew wide in shock. Had he made a mistake by confiding in George? George quickly recovered. “No, Robert, I‟m not angry at you. Quite the opposite, actually; I‟m furious at Timothy.” “Really?” “The thought that you‟re not good enough for his daughter…Robert, any father would be lucky to gain you as a son-in-law. You are a hard-working, level-headed, kind young man. I‟ve half a mind to speak to him myself when we get back to Simsfield.” “Thank you, Mr. McCarthy, but I‟m sure that would make things worse.”
  • “You‟re probably right,” agreed George. “About what?” asked Lawrence as he joined them. “That speaking to Timothy Ryan would make Robert‟s situation worse,” replied George. “You told him?” asked Lawrence in astonishment. “I did. I‟m hoping that together we can come up with a better solution than my feeble plan.” “Which is?” asked George. “To run away with her when we both go off to school and get married.”
  • “You care enough about your young lady to risk that?” asked George. Robert nodded. “I can‟t imagine my life without her in it, as cliché as that sounds.” “Mr. Ryan is a powerful man, Robert. You need to be careful,” commented Lawrence. “I don‟t care! He‟s using Matilda to for his own gains! I can‟t bear the thought of her being unhappy.”
  • “I should be telling you that her father is right, and that you should leave her be,” said George. “But I know what it‟s like to be in love with someone that society says you can‟t have. If you love her, you should fight for her.” “Really?” asked Robert. “How do you think some people looked at your mother and I? They thought she was acting inappropriately by remarrying. Lucky for me, your mother didn‟t care what they thought. And you shouldn‟t either. Elopement isn‟t something you should take lightly, but…” Robert nodded. “I understand.”
  • After the fire died down, Lawrence and Robert stayed up late whispering in their tent. “Are you really going to elope with Matilda?” “If that‟s what I have to do, I will.” “You‟ll break Mama‟s heart by not having a real wedding.” “I know. But I think she‟ll understand.” “Boys,” George‟s voice called out, “We have to be at the train station in a few hours. It‟s time to go to sleep.” “Yes, sir. Good night,” they both replied.
  • Sophia Phoenix had come to call on Eliza one afternoon, and she had brought her daughter Lorraine with her. The task of entertaining the young woman fell to Lawrence, who challenged her to a game of chess. “I understand you spend the weekend in the mountains,” she said. “I‟ve always wanted to go. Was it nice?” “I enjoyed it very much. How did you pass the weekend?”
  • “Oh, I went to Andrew Turner‟s birthday party.”
  • “Did you have a good time?” “It was very enjoyable.” “I still haven‟t met him yet. What‟s he like?”
  • “He favors his mother quite a bit, both in looks and temperament. Altogether, a very sweet little boy.”
  • “I see that you have a new telescope, Lawrence. You are interested in astronomy, then?” “I find the heavens fascinating,” he replied. Lorraine sighed softly. “There are so many lights in the city that you can barely see the stars at night. Please, tell me about some of the things you have seen.”
  • “I‟m not sure you‟d believe me if I told you,” said Robert.
  • “Sullivan!” greeted Timothy. “It‟s been far to long. I trust that you are well?” “Never been better,” Sullivan replied. “And you?” “I can‟t complain. Business is good, and it‟s about to get better. Come inside! We have a fine dinner waiting for you, and Matilda is most anxious to meet you.” “And I her. Lead the way.”
  • “It is good of you to join us this evening, Mr. Pratt,” said Rebecca. “Thank you again for having me, Mrs. Ryan. This is a most delicious dinner.”
  • “My husband has been singing your praises for so long. I am so looking forward to you joining the family,” Rebecca simpered.
  • “It will be a most advantageous match,” agreed Sullivan.
  • Timothy was pleased at how his wife was keeping up the conversation with their guest. He was, however, displeased with his daughter. She had barely spoken two words the entire evening. “Matilda, what do you think of our guest?”
  • Matilda stared at her plate as she pushed her food around. Truthfully, she found Sullivan boring and pompous, but she couldn‟t say that. “I barely know enough about him to form an opinion, Father.” “Well, you two must get to know each other. Why don‟t you go into the parlor and get acquainted!”
  • Matilda and Sullivan moved to the parlor, while Rebecca and Timothy remained in the dining room. Rather than engaging in polite conversation, Matilda challenged Sullivan to a game of chess. “You‟re rather good at this,” he commented. “I‟ve never met a woman who could play as well as you.” “I enjoy the strategy behind it,” she said. “Tell me, Matilda, what type of engagement ring would you like?” “I beg your pardon?” “We are to be married when you come of age; I want others to know that you are taken.”
  • Matilda seethed at Sullivan‟s possessive attitude. He was already treating her as a piece of his property. “I have not given it much thought,” she replied. “Then you will not object to my choosing something?” “Of course not,” she grimaced. As Sullivan contemplated his next move, Matilda stared at him. He was not at all handsome, and she could not imagine spending a lifetime with him. Robert said he would find a way for us to be together, but I’m going to need to help him along, she thought. She decided to test Sullivan.
  • “Did you see that?” she asked, pointing towards the window.
  • “See what?” he asked, turning his head. As he did, she took one of his pawns. “Oh, I though there was a carriage going by. I suppose I was mistaken.” “Silly girl,” he said. “Now, where were we? I think it is your move.” “Of course,” she said, moving a bishop across the board. “Checkmate.” Oh, this will be far too easy, she thought.
  • “Goodness, look at the time!” cried Matilda. “I have school in the morning, and I really must retire.” “You still go to school? I would have thought you would be staying home to learn how to manage a household.” “Mother has her heart set on me going to Mrs. Seymour‟s, as she did.” “Oh, your father implied that we would be married long before then. I shall have to speak with him about it. Goodnight, Matilda.” “Goodnight, Mr. Pratt.”
  • Matilda escaped up the stairs to the sanctuary of her room. There, she leaned against the door, sighing in relief that the horrible evening was over. A gentle knocking on the door interrupted her reprieve. “Matilda, may I come in?” asked Rebecca. “Of course, Mother.”
  • “Well, what did you think of Mr. Pratt?” demanded Rebecca. “He is a man of means,” said Matilda. “Any woman would be lucky to become his wife.” “Oh, I know! And he‟s chosen you! Your wedding will be the talk of the town! The state!” “Mother,” Matilda said slowly, “I am still to go to Mrs. Seymour‟s, yes?” “Of course. You will need to learn all can about social obligations, managing a house…” “Mr. Pratt implied that we would be marrying as soon as I graduated from the village school.” “Nonsense. I‟ll speak with your father. You‟re going to Mrs. Seymour‟s as I did.”
  • After Rebecca left the room, Matilda sat on her bed, thinking about her dilemma. If I can get to Mrs. Seymour’s, Robert and I can run away, she thought. Once we’re married, there’s nothing Father will be able to do about it. She sighed heavily. She was exhausted, and decide that it was time for bed. She rose and changed into her night dress.
  • Matilda fell into a restless sleep that night. She soon began to dream.
  • Matilda was standing at the alter of a church, wearing a beautiful, elaborate wedding gown and a hand-embroidered veil. The sound of the large doors opening caught her attention, and she turned to look at who dared arrive late to her wedding.
  • It was Robert, wearing a defeated expression. He did move from his position at the back of the church; rather, he seemed to want to sink into the floor.
  • If Robert is not who I am marrying, then who? Matilda thought, turning to look at the bridegroom who stood opposite her.
  • “No,” she muttered in her sleep. “Please, no.”
  • It was Sullivan Pratt standing with her at the alter. “Are you ready,” said the minister softly. “Yes, please begin,” Sullivan responded.
  • “Dearly beloved,” the minister began, “We are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the presence of family and friends to join together this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony, which is commended of St. Paul to be an honorable estate, instituted of God and therefore is not to be entered into unadvisedly or carelessly, but reverently, joyfully and in the love of God. Into this holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. "Who gives this bride to this groom in marriage?” From somewhere, Matilda heard her father’s voice say, "I do.”
  • “I, Sullivan Pratt , take thee, Matilda Ryan, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.”
  • “I, Matilda Ryan, take thee, Sullivan Pratt, to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.”
  • “I now pronounce thee man and wife.”
  • Matilda saw her mother rise and applaud out of the corner of her eye. “You may now kiss your bride,” said the Minister.
  • “NO!” gasped Matilda, sitting upright in bed. She saw that she was not in a church after all, but in her room. She heaved a sigh of relief. “It was all just a dream. A horrible, nightmarish dream.”
  • She turned and sat on the edge of her bed. That dream had been far too real for her liking, and Matilda was quite shaken up. It’s because that could really happen, she thought. “No,” she said softly, shaking her head. “Never. I don‟t care what it takes, but I will never marry Sullivan Pratt. Never.”
  • ***************************************************************************************************** The end! This is an attempt I made at an artsy shot. Coming up in Chapter 9: Generation 4 begins college. Will Matilda and Robert get to be together? What mischief will Anne cause? And who will be the wife to generation 4 heir, Matthew? Thank you very much for reading. Please leave comment on the thread at Boolprop.com. Until next time!